I arrived Back from Cyprus and was sent on a few days leave before I reported for my next project! I went home and told my parents that I was going away again and I think that by this time they were used to the idea that I would not be around too often even with me being stationed so close to home!
My next posting started in a run down wooden pre World War 2 camp in Barton Stacey near Andover in Hampshire, a very expensive area of England! I got settled in and then with the rest of the team got to work preparing the Drilling Gear for the project! Barton Stacy Camp was the home to a lot of Specialist Teams, Mine was 521 STRE (Well Drilling). In the August we traveled to RAF Brize Norton and loaded our gear onto a C130 Hercules Transport Aircraft for the 3 day flight to Botswana! A horrible thought indeed, 3 days in a flying dust bin! We took off one late afternoon for the first leg 12 hour leg of our journey to Senegal where we Refueled and had to drop of some Artificial Limbs to a British Charity there! Upon landing, our C130 was parked next to a French Concord on route to Rio and next to that was a 747! the C130 and Concord were tiny compared with the 747!
As the flight was long and no smoking I decided to stop smoking so that was my goal for this tour and it kind of worked until well into the tour!
We left Senegal and went onto Sierra Leone just a 3 hour flight away where we refueled and stayed over night. On landing I was surprised to see all the crashed Aircraft on the side of the runway, strange place! We stayed in a very upscale hotel, the Lumley Beach Hotel, the only 5 star hotel on the West African Coast at the time! On the way to the hotel we had to cross the Bay in Freetown and it was easy to see all the sunken ships scattered around there! In the hotel we were allowed to eat what we wanted but we were not allowed to charge any booze on our bills but we found a way around that as they had Irish Coffee and Fruit Salad in Drambuie on the menu so that kept us happy! The local beer Sierra Leone Star was good also. The next morning we had a huge breakfast prier to the flight as the food on the C130 was nothing special! Our next leg was long again, this time to Windhoek in Namibia which was in the desert and was really hot! We had to refuel here again as the Airport in Gaborone, Botswana only had fuel for small aircraft! The last leg took about 6 hours and the pilots actually followed a road all to way to
Gaborone as the maps showed very little in the Namibia Desert and there was no GPS at that time! Upon Landing, the Pilots made a Tactical Landing as the runway was so short and we really dropped out of the sky and hit the brakes, a very interesting landing to say the least! Our Officer was there to meet us and welcome us there! We got our personal gear of the plane and were sent on our way to the camp up north in the desert which of course was a Tented Camp in the desert with no Power at all except Kerosene lamps! We had a couple of Kerosene Freezers to keep our beer and food cold and a Field Oven to cook on! Wow, British Army Modern Accommodation!
Our Job there was to Drill a series of Water Boreholes from Gaborone, along the northern road to the town of Molepololi, which was actually the place where Doctor Livingstone had a small hospital and he was said to be buried there, there was a grave but I am not sure if a body was in it!
We got started with the drilling but the type of Drilling Rigs were not really the best for the formations which we had to penetrate so the drilling was a lot slower than we actually expected. Using the Percussion drilling method on granitic formations is not the best method but that’s what we had so we did our best!
When we were in our camp, we had lots of visitors as we were camped on the side of the main dirt road which made life interesting meeting all the different nationals who were interested on our project and what we were doing there! Some even asked if we were doing Mercenary Works in Angola which was having Civil War at the time! We were just Engineers on a water supply project and I think that most believed that! One day we had quite a surprise as the weather was great but out of nowhere came a Hail Storm with Golf Ball Sizes Hail! It beat the hell out of the camp but we got into the trucks for safety!
On our time off we would drive to Gaborone, the Capitol City which had a British Club, A Holiday Inn with a Casino which was well used by South Africans who came to Gamble and for the Women! There was another hotel also but I do not remember the name! That was it for the Capitol City! The beer was good, It came from South Africa and was very tasty, I remember Rogue, Castle and Lion so it must be good! We were in the British Club one day and I was talking to an older Brit and he was smoking Cigars, Reitmaister Juniors, he offered me one, I accepted and was hooked again after 3 months smoke free, stupid me!
We had a break mid tour so a few of us went to Johannesburg in South Africa. It was a good break as we went to Krugersdorf Game Reserve where we got close and personal with lots of animals in their natural habitat! We had fun in the City and noticed the segregation of the races but we got good souvenirs before we returned back to Botswana!
As we moved further up the road with our drilling rigs we were getting more remote and the amount of wild life increased! We saw Antelope, Zebra, Ostrich, Wild Pigs and other stuff. Guinea Fowl used to fly over in flocks of thousands and the locals could knock them down with sticks, they sure were tasty! Ostrich Eggs were plentiful and made huge omelets, good for 6 people!
We never got to the end of the road as the time and equipment were against us but we did a good job and the local government were very happy especially with the people we had trained! Just before we left, it was national day and the British Consul, a lady, asked if we could parade with the other local forces which we did and Sir Seretse Karma, the First President since British Rule and his English Wife were the honored guests. Their son is president today!
We had a magnificent party at the British Consulate Swimming Pool and for the last 2 days we stayed at the Holiday Inn which was a nice change from a tent in the desert! The C130 arrived to collect us and we took the long flight in reverse back to England!
Once we got our gear sorted out we were sent back to our units just before Christmas and from there sent on leave. Mum was very happy until I told her that we were on standby to go to the Ex British Colony of Belize as they were having trouble with the Neighbors. I had a good 3 weeks leave and then we were called back to camp, Yes, Belize would be the next stop for me!
Sorry about the lack of pictures. I cannot find more, they were probably eaten by something!